PAT Testing Regulations: A Comprehensive Guide
Portable appliance testing (PAT testing) is one of the ways to ensure compliance with health and safety obligations.
PAT testing ensures a workplace is conducive to work in and free from electrical risks and hazards. This is especially true for high-risk environments that always use power tools.
Various regulations support PAT testing to prevent electrical accidents and promote workplace safety.
We’ll be going through each of them to help you understand the importance of PAT testing regulations.
Currently, no specific legislation makes PAT testing a legal requirement.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean PAT testing should be the least priority of employers and company owners.
Different types of legislation discuss creating the ideal health and safety workplace environment.
This could be achieved through different methods, but the subject of our interest today is PAT tests. Let’s learn the different regulations and how they relate to getting PAT tested.
Employers’ Legal Obligations
Many regulations burden employers with obligations and legal requirements to maintain health and safety in the workplace.
This means eliminating or minimising the number of electrical defects in the workplace.
As office stewards, the obligation to prevent danger from happening is a priority. Many lives are at stake, even if it involves a minor incident.
What starts as minor incidents can soon branch into bigger problems, such as electrical shocks and fire hazards. You can avoid all this through PAT testing.
PAT testing is a method employers can use to achieve better work conditions for their employees.
A PAT test helps reduce the number of untoward incidents and boost overall productivity, health, and safety.
In complying with this obligation, employers must undertake a risk-based approach, considering the type of portable electrical equipment used and where it is operated.
For example, a power drill operating in a busy construction site must be PAT tested more frequently than vending machines in a coffee shop.
Safety At Work Act 1974
The Healthy and Safety Work Act of 1974 is important legislation promoting a healthy and safe work environment.
In achieving the goal of the said act, the Health and Safety Executive enumerates an employer’s general duties and obligations to its employees.
Apparent in its title is the obligation of employers to create a health and safety environment for employees to work in. A way to achieve this is by doing frequent PAT testing to maintain electrical equipment.
Getting PAT tested ensures that all electrical equipment used in the office is safe and doesn’t pose any hazard to the employees.
A PAT test could be done with the assistance of a highly trained and competent person, using specialised equipment, or through formal visual inspections.
Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
Another important piece of legislation is the Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989.
Briefly, it talks about the legal responsibility both employer and employee have to observe for the proper use of electrical appliances to promote health and safety in the workplace.
This regulation targets electrical items, whether portable or in a fixed installation. Workers are urged to observe proper practices in using an electrical appliance.
This includes avoiding overloading an extension cord and preventing electrical shock or insulation resistance. Its goal is to prevent the risk level in the office from going up.
Through PAT testing, employers and employees have adequate knowledge of how to use their electrical appliance and their status.
A PAT test helps spot electrical safety defects that can disrupt the health and safety of an office.
Maintaining regular PAT tests ensures that electrical equipment used in the office is monitored, especially for those with only basic insulation.
Safety Regulations for PAT Testing
Various work equipment regulations come with legal requirements for employers and employees.
By now, we all know that getting PAT tested is one of the effective methods of complying with these regulations.
Although there is no legal requirement to get PAT tested, it should be practised by company owners.
PAT testing safety should be a standard, especially for high-risk environments.
Electrical Safety Regulations
PAT testing deals mainly with electrical equipment, and we can’t emphasise enough the importance of continued health and safety in all places.
A simple PAT test, whether through visual inspections or with the help of manual testing electrical equipment, can already do so much for a workplace.
Even without regulations, creating a health and safety environment is necessary for everyone. The obligation isn’t just on the employers and includes everyone in the company.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations of 1998 (PUWER) has become a crucial piece of legislation for electrical safety regulations.
Briefly, PUWER talks about the obligations of employers in managing the risks involved with using an electrical appliance in the office.
Reading the provisions of PUWER would clearly show a legal requirement to ensure that an electrical appliance found in the office is suitable and safe to use.
It should be inspected properly so that it creates a health and safety environment, among others.
PUWER doesn’t discuss PAT testing in complying with the safety and health requirements.
But clearly, a good way to comply with its provisions is by conducting portable appliance testing.
Fire Safety Regulations
One can’t imagine how many fire incidents occur because of faulty wirings and damaged appliances.
When this happens, companies suffer major losses, which some don’t recover from. This can all be prevented with simple portable appliance testing, which some companies are yet to learn about.
A typical office would have over 100 pieces of electrical equipment.
Most often than not, all this equipment is vigorously used simultaneously. As a result, electrical outlets tend to heat up and even explode in the worst cases.
With the help of PAT test equipment, a PAT testing specialist can determine if an appliance is working above its capacity. It can help companies prevent overloading and suffering from fire-related losses.
It promotes the health and safety regulations necessary to operate an office.
More importantly, it ensures that employees are aware of the conditions of their equipment. They can avoid using faulty equipment or overloading an already maxed-out circuit.
Health and Safety Regulations
If it isn’t apparent enough, promoting health and safety is one of the pillars of portable appliance tests. It ensures electrical items are in perfect condition at all times.
The Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act of 2005 no less highlights the importance of promoting a health and safety working environment.
As far as practicable, employees must exert all efforts necessary. And this includes conducting a PAT test by a competent person.
This includes undergoing insulation resistance checks, lead polarity, PAT insulation test, and earth continuity tests.
Benefits of Adhering to Regulations
There are numerous benefits to adhering to PAT testing regulations that both employers and employees need to know about.
Knowing these benefits might convince some company owners to get their electrical equipment PAT tested now.
1: Reduces the Risk of Electrical Accidents
Accidents can happen anytime, especially in a high-risk working environment.
The likelihood of accidents is greater in places where risk assessments still need to be done. This can lead to an electric shock or even fire.
Although a visual inspection can help spot potential problems, more is needed. There may be underlying concerns that only PAT testing can discover.
Ask about the different types of PAT testing to know how to address your needs better.
2: Helps You With Insurance Requirements
Insurance is one of the first few things company owners get when starting a company. The insurance could be extensive enough to cover various damage and losses.
Most of the time, companies avail of fire insurance to prevent severe losses in case a fire breaks out.
But not many insurance companies grant the claim, especially when they think foul play is involved.
To prevent this from happening to you, get your fixed and portable appliances tested. Take the extra mile and ask for the following:
This should show that you’ve complied with health and safety requirements and related work regulations.
3: Boosts the Lifespan of Appliances
The lifespan of portable electrical appliances gets reduced through the usual wear and tear. It’s a natural loss which many people expect.
But underlying problems, such as faulty wiring systems or low electrical load, can cause detrimental impacts on the lifespan of fixed and portable appliances.
As a result, employers have to keep replacing their equipment. With the help of a PAT test, this can be prevented.
PAT testing frequency doesn’t have to be more than twice a year. Once a year can be enough if the PAT tester fully tests the subject equipment.
But remember that the frequency can vary depending on the electrical class and risk level of the environment.
4: Improves Your Business
You might not see it now, but simple electrical testing helps business efficiency.
Electrical appliances that function better and faster boost employee productivity. More importantly, employees can focus on something other than putting out accidents.
Employees can dedicate their time to being productive with little to no accidents. And it’s all thanks to PAT testing.
Employers don’t have to worry about replacing their portable equipment and fixed appliances often.
Instead, they can allocate the money for other parts of the business, such as investing in a person to undergo a PAT testing course.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
PAT testing is an important subject everyone needs to understand. More so for people working in high-risk environments.
To help you understand the basics of PAT testing, we’ve answered some of the FAQs we always get.
How Often Is PAT Testing Required?
PAT testing regulations don’t prescribe a period when to perform PAT testing. This being the case, PAT testing frequency is based on the discretion of the company owner.
There are several factors to consider in deciding when to conduct PAT testing, including the following:
- Type of equipment used based on its electrical classes; and
- The environment in which the electrical equipment is used (low-risk or high-risk environments)
PAT testing ensures and promotes workplace safety. Thus, for high-risk environments, we recommend conducting PAT testing more often. It could be as frequent as six months or one year.
But PAT testing doesn’t have to be done frequently for low-risk environments.
What Equipment Will You Need for PAT Testing?
Different types of PAT testing equipment are used.
The type of equipment can also vary depending on the purpose for which it is being tested.
Some of the common equipment used include the following:
- Earth continuity tester
- Insulation resistance tester
- PAT tester
- Polarity tester
- Voltage tester
Always ask a qualified professional to conduct PAT testing and ask about the type of equipment they’ll use. It should show you how the PAT test will be done.
How Much Does PAT Testing Cost?
There is no specific amount how much PAT testing costs.
The cost of doing PAT tests varies, depending on the service needed. Several factors need to be taken into consideration, such as:
- Electrical class of appliances subject of the PAT test
- The environment where the electrical appliances are used
- Type of PAT testing procedure to be done: visual inspection or with the help of a specialist PAT testing equipment
- Number of electrical equipment that needs to be PAT tested
- Type of PAT testing equipment and PAT testers needed
Ask for a quote from your service provider on how much the PAT tests will cost you.
Alternatively, you can have one of your employees take a PAT testing course to have an in-house employee for your stationary appliances and health and safety checks.
They should be able to master how to use PAT testing equipment and different electrical systems.
Portable appliance testing may not be a legal requirement for employers, but it still is a standard practice that needs to be observed.
Thanks to the above regulations, employees can feel safe working even if it’s in a high-risk environment.
One thing’s for sure; PAT testing helps ensure that electrical appliances operate in good condition with a minimal risk level.